Archive for the ‘Tips & Techniques’ Category

Ask WEBS – Projects using two yarns at once

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015
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Ask WEBS Feb.10, 2015  Using two strands of yarn in a non-color-work project - Read more at

When you first read through your pattern you may see a note that says to “hold the yarn doubled throughout” or “yarn is doubled throughout”, this means you’ll carry 2 strands of yarn and knit with them as if they are one strand. This allows you to knit at a bulkier gauge or to combine yarns for a completely different look and texture, like transitions of color. The Lodge Pole Cowl uses two strands of Valley Yarns Northampton Bulky for a chunkier gauge than one strand would have yielded and the Gradient Cowl from Shibui transitions colors easily by changing just one at a time.

Knitting two strands together as one -

If your pattern is made up of short stripes, usually only 2 or 4 rows of each color, it may make more sense for you to “carry the yarn up the side” of your work rather that cutting and starting with new yarn for every new row – think of weaving in ALL those ends! The trick to this method is carrying the yarn up the side of the work each time you change color for the stripes. You’ll finish a row, and when you turn the piece over you’ll let the color you just finished with hang to the front of your work and bring the new color up behind to begin the new row. If you remember to change your colors this way for each color change it will be nearly invisible. The Garter Trap scarf, and the Chevron Tube Cowl are great examples of this technique!

Working with 2 colors in a project and carrying the yarn up the side - read more at

What techniques or stitches are you struggling with? Ask WEBS, we can help!




Ask WEBS – Hemstitching

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015
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AskWEBS - January 27, 2015, Hemstitching technique, tips and tricks - more details at

One of the best ways to add a professional finishing touch to your weaving is with a hemstitched edge. Here our Weaving Manager, Leslie Ann Bestor, shows you how.

Leslie Ann even has a few quick tips to make the hemstitching even easier!

Have questions? Leave us a comment and let us know how we can help!

Ask WEBS – Grafting and the Kitchener Stitch

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015
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Ask WEBS Jan. 13, 2015 - Video tutorial for grafting live stitches to a cast on edge and kitchener stitch - see more at

We get lots of questions in our drop-ins and in Customer Service from knitters like you who aren’t quite sure how to graft, or do the Kitchener stitch, or why they would even use it! We have 2 great videos to share with you today to help you learn how to graft live stitches to a cast on edge, and how to do the Kitchener stitch. Both of these techniques should be used when you’re looking to have a seamless finish.

Grafting live stitches to a cast on edge is a great way to turn a simple scarf into a seamless cowl. In the video Kirsten is working on the Lumen Cowl in Valley Yarns Southwick.

In the second video you’ll see the Kitchener Stitch. This can be especially important to use in socks if you’re knitting socks from the cuff down where having a bulky seam can be quite uncomfortable at the toe.

Have a question you need answered? Ask WEBS! Let us know what you need help with. Comment below and let us help YOU in future Ask WEBS features.

What to do with Weftovers

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
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Weftovers - projects for your leftover weaving yardage on the WEBS blog -

I don’t know about you, but I hate to waste anything. This leads to cones with less than 10 yards (could be an accent thread), chokes ties straightened and rehung on the warping board to use on the next warp and piles of cloth scraps trimmed from the ends of woven yardage. I compound the ‘problem’ of scraps by my typical sampling method – I usually add an extra yard or two to my warp so that I can test different weft colors, treadlings and even setts. It’s a great way to test out ideas and provides me with a record of what I’ve tried.

Weftovers - projects for your leftover weaving yardage on the WEBS blog - blog.yarn.comAnd it leads to these piles, just begging to become something more. Usually these pieces are on the smaller side, which means petite projects. I’ve been inspired by other weavers and have to show you some of the great things they’ve come up with. Of course, you can start with the easy-to-sew rectangular pouches – cases for eyeglasses, phones and other devices. But let’s add a little more pizzazz!

My friend Amy took the beginning weaving class a few years ago and before the 7 weeks were done she showed up with these wonderful zippered bags. She lined them with commercially made fabric, inserted the zipper and created one-of-a-kind bags that can be used to hold everything from knitting/weaving tools & projects to travel accessories. These are fun and can be made in any size, can traverse weft color changes, etc.

Another co-worker, Marthe, took it one step (several steps, actually) further and created this fancy clasp purse. She backed her handwoven cloth with fusible interfacing and a silk lining, added a metal purse frame and embellished it with beads. Another example of a creative person who just can’t stop!

Although I do have a profusion of weftovers in my weaving studio, many of them are pretty small. I just can’t toss them, so I have delved into the world of functional small objects. I started with lavender sachets, sewn from the 60/2 silk scarf I mentioned in my last post. The cloth is delicate and fine and seems perfect to nestle in a drawer of clean linens.

The next set of tiny squares I stuffed firmly with fiberfil and they became miniature pincushions, perfect for the high castle of my loom or in the drawer where I keep my hand sewing supplies. I chose cloth with a tighter weave and sturdier structure for these. The red one is an overshot done in 40/2 linen with 20/2 linen for the pattern weft, and it’s so tiny that you wouldn’t even know there’s a treadling error if I didn’t tell you (now you’re going to look, right?). The pincushion in blues was a sampler of weft colors for a huck lace scarf in tencel. Although I stuffed my pincushion with fiberfil, I have heard of folks using emery (the gritty stuff I remember that sharpened the needles in my mom’s pincushion) and ground walnut hulls (which are sold as bedding material in pet shops).

And, speaking of pets, I know how much my sister’s cats (Pip and Squeak) love to chase small things. So I hunted down a pattern for a mouse and made a catnip toy for them. The pattern is incredibly simple – cut out a heart-shaped piece, fold it in half and sew along the open edges, leaving an opening to add the catnip. After the catnip is stuffed inside, hand stitch the opening closed. I have to admit my ‘mouse’ looks a little angular, but that’s mostly due to my clumsy sewing and a too-small seam allowance. Next time I will start with a larger heart. I’m pretty sure that cats will not be picky about the odd shape and will have fun batting it around the house.

What do you do with your weftovers?

Hot Gifts -Gild your Knits!

Friday, December 12th, 2014
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Last Fall we noticed a trend on fashion runways that we thought was super exciting, gilded knitwear! Sweaters and accessories where sections had been covered in silver or gold leaf. And while we’ve seen a few pieces in some high end department stores and online shops we thought this is something we can do for ourselves and so can you!

Gild Your Knits! Learn how to add metal foil accents to your knits on the WEBS blog.

We started with some bulky yarns – there are only days left to Hanukkah and Christmas after all! We knit up the Lodge Pole Cowl in Valley Yarns Northampton Bulky, the project was blocked before we began the next step.

Then we stopped by our local craft store and picked up sizing(the glue), pouncing sponges, and gold foil all from Martha Stewart. Be sure that you are using the right glue for your project! Just any old glue won’t do the job!

Working at a nice flat and stable work surface, dab the sizing onto the areas you’d like to highlight with the foil. We used a liberal amount of the sizing since the fiber will absorb some of it and you need enough on the surface to dry and become tacky before applying the foil. Once that was done we left it to dry according to the package instructions. The time may vary depending on how humid it is where you are so check on your glue every 10 minutes or so until it is tacky without being sticky.

Once the sizing had dried enough to be tacky we started to gently apply the gold foil. It will only stick to the glue but you may find that tiny pieces will tear off and float around your work area. You may want to keep a vacuum handy! Once the foil is applied and has covered all the glue use another one of your sponges to press it firmly into the fabric removing any excess foil and fly-away bits. This not only helps to set the foil in place, but burnishes the surface giving it some extra shine and helps to break up the foil so the shapes of the individual stitches show.

Gild Your Knits! Learn how to add metal foil accents to your knits on the WEBS blog.

This technique should work on most smooth yarns so avoid mohair, alpaca, angora or anything with a halo. The sizing is also water soluble so this is not a washable surface, you’ll need to spot clean any projects made with this technique. This could easily work on crochet and woven fabrics as well. So go forth and gild your knits and crochet! Make something just to try out the technique or use it to spiff up an older, but well loved accessory, and show us what you’ve made!

Ask WEBS – We want your questions!

Thursday, December 11th, 2014
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Early in 2015 we’re going to start answering your fiber queries twice each month but first we need to know: What do you want to know?!

Ask WEBS! Tell us what you really want to know.

Tell us what you have trouble with. What totally stumps you? What do you wish you could understand more clearly? We have experts on hand in knitting, crochet, spinning and weaving so bring on the questions! Ask WEBS and let us offer you some expert answers.

Shuttle Shenanigans

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
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Beginning to weave is an exciting adventure that opens the door to so much – creativity, color, texture, pattern and more. It is also overwhelming at times to learn the new language (sley? heddle? tromp as writ?!) not to mention the huge variety of tools.

One of the most basic tools is the shuttle, which holds and carries the yarn to weave the cloth. Sounds simple enough, right? Then why are there so many different ones and how am I supposed to know which one to use?! It’s enough to make you cry, but that will stain the wood, so let me break it down for you. We’ll start with the major types of shuttles.

boat shuttlesBoat Shuttles

Boat shuttles are longish, narrow wooden shuttles that are open in the center with a long metal shaft that holds the bobbin of yarn. Boats can be open underneath the bobbin or closed (solid wood) underneath. The profile of a shuttle refers to its height; a slim shuttle will be shorter and fit into a narrower shed (the opening between the threads that the shuttle passes through). Double boat shuttles can hold two bobbins of yarn. The yarn in a boat shuttle feeds off the bobbin and through a slot or hole in the side of the shuttle.

Stick Shuttles

stick shuttlesStick shuttles are thin flat pieces of wood that have notches at both ends. They also come in a variety of lengths, anywhere from 6” up to 30”. It is much easier to work with a shuttle that is slightly longer than the width of your project. If it is too long, you will end up whacking the walls and doing a bit of flailing; too short and you will have to reach into the shed  to grab the shuttle. A Belt shuttle is a short stick shuttle that has one beveled edge so that it can be used to beat the yarn in. Belt shuttles are often used with inkle, card and backstrap weaving.

Rag, Rug & Ski Shuttles

rag, rug & ski shuttlesRag shuttles look like two thin tapered pieces of wood with columns in between. This is so you can wind a lot of strips of cut or torn rags, which are rather bulky, onto the shuttle.

A rug shuttle is used as its name suggests – to weave rugs. It is a solid, square-ish piece of wood with groves along the sides and notches at the end to hold the yarn (I think of it as a stick shuttle on steroids); it needs the extra heft to carry the heavier rug yarns. As with stick shuttles, choose a rug shuttle based on the width of your project.

A ski shuttle has a wooden base with upturned ends (like a ski!) and an upright center to wrap the yarn around. It can be used for yarns that are too bulky for a boat shuttle, but it slides along the warp which is an advantage over a stick shuttle.

How to Choose a Shuttle

First you have to choose the type that is suitable for your loom and project. Boat shuttles feed yarn more evenly and quickly because of the bobbin and are generally the shuttle of choice for multi-harness looms. Rigid heddle weavers will sometimes use boats, though in my  personal experience I limit them to narrower warps as they can nose dive to the floor on wider warps. Stick shuttles work well for rigid heddles and other smaller looms, as well as for some hand-manipulated weaves on larger looms. Rug and rag shuttles – self-explanatory.

Photo by Lindsey TophamBoat shuttles have a number of variables to further influence your choice. Open or closed bottom? Closed bottom will glide more smoothly, open bottom allows you to use your fingers as a brake on the bobbin and are lighter in weight. Weight is an important factor in choosing a shuttle. In general, you want to pick the lightest shuttle that serves your weaving needs, to lessen the strain on your hands, though on occasion you may need something heavier to throw across a wider warp.

If you have the chance to try shuttles in person, take advantage of it. Hold it in your hand and mimic your throwing motion. Evaluate how it fits in your hand, how easy it is to grasp. As with many fine tools, it often comes down to personal preference so listen to your body and don’t be afraid to experiment with different shuttle types. You will probably also find that different projects require different shuttles (which is how we end up with a variety on the shelf next to the loom!).

WEBS 40th Anniversary Shuttle



Planning a Trip to WEBS? Where to Stay

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014
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One of the great things about living in Hampshire County is all of the amazing colleges we have. Of course, this also means that come fall, the hotels in the surrounding area fill up between students moving in and family weekends. When you add in the visitors we have to check out our amazing foliage, hotel room book quickly. If you’re planning to visit WEBS and are including an overnight stay,  it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Hotel is a great resource if you’re travelling to our neck of the woods, and they’ve just added a great function to their site to help you find a hotel room. They have added the JackRabbit Book Direct Lodging Search Engine. Enter the dates you’d like to stay and you will receive a list of places to stay with vacancy and price so you can compare. Super simple!

While you’re on the site, you can check out places to eat, shop, and things to see while you’re visiting us. Hampshire County has a lot to offer. Even I, a lifelong resident of Hampshire County, find it useful when looking for something new to do.

Are you planning a trip to WEBS sometime soon?

Dyeing Yarn with Sharpies!

Monday, June 9th, 2014
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If you’ve spent any time on Pinterest you’ve probably seen the posts about dyeing t-shirts with sharpies, our Customer Service Supervisor, Theresa, wondered if it could be done with yarn, and it can!

Dyeing yarn with Sharpies! You'll need yarn, sharpies and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle

You’ll need yarn, your choice in colors of Sharpie markers, and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle – it takes A LOT of the rubbing alcohol, we used almost 12 fl. oz for this project. Place skein of yarn on swift and untie the securing threads, if your yarn is not in a hank you can wind it onto a swift to make the dyeing process easier.

Dyeing Yarn with Sharpies on the WEBS blog

Color your yarn being careful not to damage the strands, and make sure you flip the skein over to color the other side! Then spritz with alcohol, on both sides, until the colors begin to bleed. Set your yarn aside to dry. You may want to take this in stages letting the yarn dry completely between colors.

Dyeing Yarn with Sharpies on the WEBS blog

My final yarn color reminds me of my sister’s favorite fun-fetti cake mix! Give it a try and let us know how you do.

Tiny Tea Leaves Cardigan knit with Valley Yarns Charlemont, dyed with Sharpies

Theresa chose Valley Yarns Charlemont in natural and used her dyed yarn as an accent for a Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan and blanket for her new granddaughter.


National Crochet Month Special Techniques – Invisible Single Crochet

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014
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This week our focus is invisible single crochet decreases. This is a great way to decrease when you’re working in the round making stuffed animals or amigurumi.

Most single crochet decreases leave you with a gap in the fabric on either side of the decreased stitch which can be really unsightly when that fabric is stuffed. This decrease keeps the same density of stitches to your fabric and is nearly invisible.

This is a great stitch to use on our Valley Yarns Spring animals, the bunnylamb and Robin! Try it out and let us know what you think.